Actors concerned about their careers following the coronavirus pandemic will be in for a shock to learn a $70million (£57m) sci-fi movie has given the role of its lead performer to artificial intelligence.
Humanoid robot Erica is set to take centre stage in Life Production’s film, titled b, which follows the story of a scientist trying to perfect human DNA.
Naturally, as with most sci-fi films, something goes horribly wrong and the scientist’s creation is forced to flee the lab with his help.
The story somewhat draws from real life – Japanese scientists created her to study human interactions with computers.
But one thing her creators Hiroshi Ishuguro and Kohei Ozawa never planned for their robot was to ever take a part in a film, let alone the lead role.
It was therefore decided the pair would “teach” Erica how to act – which they managed by tinkering with her AI.
Speaking to Hollywood Reporter, Sam Khoza, the film’s visual effects supervisor and producer, said: “In other methods of acting, actors involve their own life experiences in the role.
“But Erica has no life experiences. She was created from scratch to play the role.
“We had to simulate her motions and emotions through one-on-one sessions, such as controlling the speed of her movements, talking through her feelings and coaching character development and body language.”
Erica was, in fact, set to make her on-screen debut in another film directed by Tony Kaye – of American History X fame – but scheduling was later dropped.
Life Production is more hopeful it will be able to get its movie off the ground with some footage already having been shot and more being scheduled in 2021.
When Erica was first introduced in 2017 during a 18-minute video, her creators spoke about wanting to change the world with what he called the “android project”.
They said: “Erica is, I think, is the most beautiful and most human-like autonomous android in this world. I hope.
“I wanted to be one of the creators to change our life. I want to change this world with robot technologies.
“I think I am doing very similar things to artistic works. I try to represent humanity in robots. That is my android project.”